Origin Stories - How Did You Get Started In The Security Industry?

Were you born into it? Did you plan to get in? Did you fall into it?

Vote:

I'll start with my own crazy story.


I had been working in telecom / tech in NY but decided to move (back) to Honolulu. I got a job doing network engineering for a live video webcasting startup (2002). The owner of that made his money owning a security integration business and did the startup for fun / adventure / etc.

I knew nothing anything about security at that time but we shared an office with the security guys.

The most colorful character was a retired Army Colonel, named Swindell. He'd go around the office saying things like "I've been in more knife fights than gun fights." He demanded we plan out a promotional trip renting a 747 to go from Hawaii to Moscow, etc., etc.

Anyway, the Swindell won a million dollar plus deal for an IP video surveillance mesh wireless systems for military bases, which, in 2002, was pretty crazy / cutting edge.

A few weeks later, Swindell asked for his comissions. Shortly after that, he quit.

In light of that, the owner asked me to switch from the startup to the security side. It was an interesting opportunity so I agreed.

But it was an insane project, because there was little, if any real design in place, and the technology just was not mature enough. But it was quite a learning experience.

After that, one thing lead to another, but that's a story for another day.

Now, it's your turn.

Swindell won a million dollar plus deal...

Anybody who can sell million-dollar security systems with a name like 'Swindle' is probably damn good .. ;)

Anybody who can sell million-dollar security systems with a name like 'Swindle' is probably damn good .. ;)

The owner never saw it coming too...

My dad was in the cable TV business, he was the general manager of that particular system, so I would spend a lot of time growing up shadowing my father, and inspecting jobs with him. At age 12 I knew how to terminate a coaxial cable like a pro and I was facinated by video distribution. Eventually his cable company was sold to a bigger company and he along with other management were let go. So he took a job at a research facility as the manager of their security department. I was helping him put covert board cameras in radios, and playing with access control panels. Naturally I worked in their department during the summers and after I graduated college I started for them full time as their security IT person, and I was in charge of making sure the 700+ card readers and 300 some cameras all were working. After a few years of that I took a job as a card access and CCTV systems engineer for a large security integrator and the rest is history.

Craig, thanks for sharing!

Anybody start even younger than Craig? :)

I started out in Cleveland Ohio in 1974 installing bank security for Mosler and Diebold as a contractor. Our company which had to carry IBEW cards performed UL listed installations, all low voltage wiring was in EMT and inspected by UL. I was at a bank with the FBI which had been held-up. I was giving them Bolex 16mm black & white film in a dark closet to be developed. Later that day robber was arrested in a bar a few blocks from bank, buying everyone drinks true story.

This film video, as I was told, was one of the first in the history of actual footage of robber. This guy put his entire face directly in front of camera lens before pulling the trigger. I also helped install RCA B/W camera and monitor, I believe to be one of the first demos. With such low resolution I still vaguely remember seeing round pixels on the monitor.

I'm sure someone remembers the Gamewell Fire Alarm Box it had "dry cell" batteries? It activated when teller pulled the money clip. If you had remembered to wind mechanism it sent a coded wheel signal on dedicated hard copper lines to a Ticker Tape in Cleveland's Police department.

We eventually built a enunciator panel in police department that worked on 12VDC reversal voltage. We had two crews and many late nights to perform changing windup alarms with our own hand build systems. Current sensitive on vault loop and latching relays for hold up buttons activated alarm. We were allowed to lace vault with wire before concrete pour. Grounds on vault wiring caused havoc in the day, not sure why, they being FDIC, allowed that?

I have been part of several Central Station upgrades over my career always wanted to try something different, that never worked out. I'm still in this industry despite my best efforts not all bad however.

Worth a mention as a young kid my neighbor DR. Karl Kordesch invented the alkaline battery he help teach me about electricity...that's a story for another day

Greg, excellent story!

I was a co-op while a student at Rochester Institute of Technology, working for a Kodak Contracting company who did AV rentals/sales and Kodak Carosel/Film Projector repair. Someone sold and installed a 4 camera VCR recorded system to a junkyard long before I was hired (2004), and eventually the owner of the junk yard wanted cameras on his house due to the cash-centric nature of his business.

We installed 14 analog Sony cameras with a Sony 500GB DVR unit in his house... ran the coax, installed the camera, set up the DVR having never seen or setup or touched a DVR before. I went a few more years through college without much security related jobs, but then got my 1st job out of college with a Wal-Mart contractor and one of my projects there was getting Verint certified to be a trainer for Wal-Mart contractors/trainers. We then converted 50+ Wal-Mart stores from old March systems and VCR based recording to Verint encoded and VMS based systems.

Not long after that we got involved with Chris Ritter from Genetec when he first started with them, and I've been security-focused ever since.

I was a partner in a computer store that did onsite services, coming from being an IT systems admin at a newspaper company. Gee, why did I leave the newspaper industry? Anyways, my partner who started the store handled the retail side while I built up the onsite and business IT services side. One of my customers was a small security integrator. The owner is very computer savy, but he had a business to run so he hired me to maintain his computer servers and network when it got to be too time consuming. Over time, more and more I was helping the techs get DVRs IP addressed and on the Internet, helping get firewall rules setup and getting their customers setup with client software and remote viewing.

This one large install, payment was being held up because remote viewing wasn't working. I verified their firewall was allowing the incoming connections to the right ports. DVR web page configuration was accessible, and the client would work internal, but not from externally to the network. Their IT guy and firewall admin wasn't much help and tried to push it off as a problem with the equipment. Knowing what I knew I pushed the IT guy to check his logs and look for any errors. Finally he came back and verified the firewall didn't like the way the stream was forming http headers so it was shutting it down. Even so, he still wasn't much help, saying he didn't want to disable the rulle checking http header formation because of security concerns. I had to say to him, "well, can't you just create a rule to bypass the check for just the DVR's internal IP address?" Then he was, "Yeah, I guess I can do that." And we finally got it working.

Shortly after the owner of the security of the security company offered me a job as their first full time IT guy. I was getting bored of doing the same things over and over in IT and the security business looked pretty cool with lot's of neat toys to play with, so I left the store and came over to where I am working now. And I've been bitching and moaning about how far the security industry is behind the IT industry ever since. :)

Moral of the story: Having trouble with the IT guys? Fight fire with fire!

My background is in manufacturing engineering. I was working as a facilities engineer contractor for a USAF jet engine overhaul operation, when an engineering management opening came up at a door hardware manufacturing company owned by a family member. I managed other engineers performing tasks like writing CNC G-code, building tooling, doing QC/QA and the IT group composed of a sys admin, a few techs, and a software developer. We were all up to our elbows in dirt and grease everyday, there were no desk jobs.

Our skillsets made us invaluable for some of the company salespeople who pushed electronic access, surveillance, and alarms in addition to mechanical hardware to national accounts. (They were quite good at it, too!) We got pulled into many sales as 'field engineers', and at one point it was my primary job by virtue of being 'the top engineering guy'. 70+ hours a week, full travel slate, prebid meetings galore.

Summary: I got into security when a manufacturing job mushroomed into physical security system design. I also say things like "I've been in more knife fights than gun fights."

I owned a company that serviced consumer electronics equipment with added side work doing networks (Arcnet and early Ethernet), satellite TV (8' to 12' dishes, receivers and whole-home signal distribution), etc. Relatively early on, I was approached by a couple of banks to service their time lapse VCRs. That led to cameras and complete systems.

When the consumer electronics repair business started becoming less profitable (VCRs, for instance, dropped to under $100 and people would just throw them away and replace them rather than pay the cost of repairs), I closed the business and got a job with a company who obtained the contract to install and service CCTV equipment for a major SoCal supermarket chain.

That company was sold and the new owner ran it into the ground and lost the contract. My wife spotted the job posting for a Lead Technician where I now work. I got the job and the rest is history.

I was a real estate developer. I had put together a project servicing the small to medium oener/operators in the trucking industry. I had a lot of equity in the deal. Pre-leased to 82%, raised $7.3 million, got it built, opened Q3 2007, diesel started going up, truckers froze, most of the leases defaulted...Equity partner took everything, he went broke, I went broke...a lot of people went broke. We all suffered, some more than others, during that time period.

I took it hard. Got really depressed and fed up with the real estate business for many reasons.

Q1 2009: Always been a great cook. Decided to apprentice in a kitchen. Liked it. 4 mo. later went to work as a line cook on my way to being a chef. 3 mo. later ran a kitchen for a small family owned italian restaurant making $13/hr.

May 2011, had our first child. 8AM-2AM 7 days a week for peanuts didn't really work anymore. March 2012, met our president in a bar. I thought his idea of proactive live monitoring cameras to prevent and deter crime sounded really interesting. I started at the bottom as a monitor. Worked overnights as monitor, then managed monitoring, then video review, and then managed video review for a year and a half before they finally promoted me to sales. I have sold a little more than a million in new equipment since I started in sales much to the credit of what I learned in IPVM's IP cam basics certification. I was a little static in my sales until I finished that course. It really gave me the confidence to call on folks and feel like I at least had an inkling of what the heck I was doing. Made all the difference. (John, please feel free to use that endorsement in any way if it helps. Take license with it as you please. Anything to help this amazing aggregation of info and knowledge for this business)

I am now at the point where I am deciding to stay in this industry or not. I really like the camera aspect of things. I took photography every chance I could in school and even did four summer semesters at NYU's Film School. Most of that was on Arriflex 16mm cams and old Steenbeck editing tables but we worked with digital video too.

I work for a family company (errg) and will quickly exceed their bandwidth. I would really like to stay in this business and I am going to look for other opportunities in the new year. I would really like a mentor in the business. Our co. is just an entrepreneur trying to get us large enough to sell. No real vested interest in the security or integration business. I love the technical challenges of new clients; especially large manufacturing facilities where the opportunities to solve problems with sytems integration is especially rewarding. Like figuring out the most cost effective and reliable solution for remote after hours gate verification and operation; or the best delpoyment around a shaker table to see if employees are rubbing gold dust into their hair and leaving the facility with it etc...

I definitely fell...stumbled into this business and may have found a career. It appears there is a lot of opportunity in it too. That's my security story. I am very interested to see how it plays out in the future.

What is going to be the next big development in this field. Like the next Analog to IP?

Best Reagrds,

Dale

Dale, Chef sounds good to me, especially if it's Italian food!

Next big thing - IP to Analog HD :)

At least you didn't end living in a van, down by the river.

John and Luis, Thanks! I use that Van down by the river Chris Farley homage a bit as I am a bit fleshy...well heck, corpulent :) myself.

We are playing with the Analog HD (HD-SDI ?) in our shop right now. It appears to have some serious benefits but we need to learn more about how we can/should apply it before I start selling it. I am sure I can find good resources to teach myself here. I have been away from the site for awhile as my pipeline got to a point for a few months where I could barely even check email. People all day and RFPs half the night. Slowed down for a moment and am excited to spend more time back on the site to learn. I am going to do the Access Class if I can fit it in.

Perfect! Thanks , John!

I was fascinated with radios and electronics at an early age. I also admired law enforcement officers and thought I might want to be a cop. At age 13, I was riding my bicycle through downtown Seattle and saw an alarm technician installing alarm foil on a window. I was very curious about this and started studying about alarm systems, as I thought they would be a good way to combine both of my interests: electronics and catching bad guys. I installed a simple alarm system in our home shortly thereafter.

At age 14, I started hanging around a car radio shop. The owner took me under his wing and started teaching me electronics in a formal way. In return, I helped him to install car stereo systems and alarms in cars and trucks. On day, a customer came in and asked about an alarm for his home. The owner said that he didn't do this, but that he knew someone who did: me. I met with the customer and soon had my first paid residential alarm job.

Unfortunately, my lack of skills at the time, combined with my lack of money to buy equipment, prevented me from finishing this first job. In told the customer that I would "be back later", but never returned. When the customer came looking for me, I hid…

I continued developing my alarm skills through self-study and experimentation. One day, I was contacted by a drug store which needed to have their alarm system repaired. The company that installed it had gone out of business. I was successfully able to complete the repair and decided to look for other accounts installed by this same company. I walked each of the business districts in Seattle looking for the decals of this now defunct alarm company, and when I saw one, I went in and introduced myself. The strategy was effective, and I soon had about 80 service accounts. At age 16, I opened my first office and started operating as an official business. (I then went back and finally finished that first residential alarm job-- at no cost to the owner..)

I continued my business for about five years, and then wanted to see what it was like to work for a major company. I was employed by several local alarm companies in sales, installation, and service roles. In 1980, I went to work for one of the early systems integrators in the Seattle area, installing some of the first major implementations of access control and video surveillance in the Pacific Northwest. I eventually rose to a management position, and had about 15 installers and technicians reporting to me.

In late 1985, I saw the need for an independent security consultant, so I started my own consulting business which I continue to operate to this day.

Formally 1977, informally 1969. Too many stories to tell, but my Dad used to record the tape dialects that went direct to PD at the house and us kids made such a noise the dispatcher thought someone was getting killed in the background.

When I was 19, I was working in the datacom division of an electrical contractor, and got sent to help two journeymen with a project. It turns out that mostly all they did was security; I just had no idea at the time. It was a Northern Computers system we were working on that day. It was so foreign to me, mostly doing LAN cabling (WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE DON'T HOMERUN EVERYTHING?! WHERE DOES IT GET PUNCHED DOWN?!) and phone systems.

But I liked it. They were the first ones to teach me how to read a one line diagram (I was the first of the data division to do so) and actually connect these things. It was an interesting diversion from doing LAN cabling.

Then, we got connected with another company (later bought by ADT) who subbed us for a lot of projects. I installed a very large warehouse project for them, everything but the programming, with a crew of 4. Then I did some work for a small airport and ended up doing more card access work for another integrator. Then installing fiber for PTZs at a distribution center and that was my first actual surveillance work. That was fascinating to me, so I looked for more.

But eventually I ended up effectively running the low voltage division, and that all went to other folks.

Then I took a break.

When I came back I was estimating for an integrator who did security, fire, intercom, audio, and more. My direct supervisor was an old alarm guy, so I learned a lot more of the old school ways. How to properly pick lenses. The nightmare of PC based DVRs at the time. Intrusion detection. A lot of access control. And even more fire alarm. Eventually one day someone decided I should be THE security guy. I said no.

But not long after I said yes. We ended up doing a city surveillance system which just blew the IP video world wide open. It snowballed from there. We did quite a few school district wide projects and integrated systems. More cities. Corporate work. Some really fun projects.

Then I left. And here I am.

As the son of a vice squad detective in the 70's my primary exposure growing up was law enforcement. My father retired early from the police force and became a partner in a private detective and guard agency.

Because I passed for age 18 at 15 yrs old I worked summers and after school as a uniformed guard in industrial facilities, most that were storage warehouses with little to no staff.

At 16, when I could drive, I also began to help with the investigative side, which were often domestic disputes where vehicle surveillance of who was cheating on whom were the norm. I became skilled at covert 35mm surveillance as a teen from these tawdry activities.

When I was 18 I began working more public retail accounts for the agency that involved store detective/shoplifter apprehension.

I went to college to earn a degree in Security Management, but had 80% of my classes with the Police Academy--to the point where I eventually went to the Professor in charge of the program and told him I was thinking of switching to law enforcement. This was 1981. He told me I should stay in security and that it was growing, paying better, and becoming more professional. [Later, after 9/11 the government tapped this professor for the next 5 years to leave academia and come consult for the federal government--as he was a global terrorism expert before we really understood fanatical/religious terrorism back in the 70's and 80's.].

So, I followed the good Professors advice, stayed on the Security track, left the family agency and went to work in Loss Prevention for a major retailer, developing deeper investigation, physical security, management, and IT skills in 10 years there, before being recruited to another security opportunity.

Eventually I got out of the "operational" side of security and into the Sales/Engineering/IT/Management side of it where I remain.

By luck I often to the pub. After pub(s), if also by luck still alone, I often fascinate with how live cameras can be working. Take apart few too many, fit back too many few less. At least still can learn something every time, yes?*. But, I found that IPVM can teach thine thrice as fast and with less leftover nut/bolt strewned about!

Already had job, low rung security at high fashion club, but dont quit my night job just yet. First move: study all articles IPVM. Next was to target the live customer, (Who Are Your 'Guinea Pigs'?). Then study encouraged newbie advices (Fake It Till You Make It;), only then dampened down mood with some well-cautioned chuckling ("You Might Be A Trunkslammer If....).

So when overwhelmingly tasting sweet sting of success, (Business Closed - Thanks To IPVM!), quit nightlife job. Must give back to others by doing Calculator co-field testing, (Error With Calculator?), very humbly awarded ultra-prestigous Correct Horse !(!!)

All for all, started my learning in security just over one year. But sure bets on, its one more year before Ill be totally finished.

P.s. My first newbie card pictured, (ok, to admit some mistake; did not know about real corner mount cameras.)

*because if learning same thing twice i might count it up as two learns.

I had been selling office equipment for a few years in the late 80s and had done pretty well with it. When i was hired, it was my first exposure to a fax machine and I thought it was the most incredible invention I'd ever seen. By 1991 you could buy them at Wal-Mart.

I received a call from a recruiter asking me to interview with a new security technology provider. I agreed and was shown EAS (Electronic Article Surveillance). The same sense of amazement I had with the fax was there when I saw you could put a paper tag on a product and it would cause an antenna to "beep" if the item wasn't paid for. Within a year I was making double my best year selling fax machines and copiers.

A couple years later that company expanded their product offering to Intrusion / Fire and Video by buying a system integration company. I learned those product lines and enjoyed over 16 years of selling security solutions to retail for that company

Scott,

I thought the name Scott Thomas was familiar but until I read your post, I didn't realize it was you!

Give me a call sometime, 800-253-5625

Jack

I was a software guy doing a consulting gig, having spent years building banking applications that were missiong critical, highly distributed solutions (6,000 users 600 locations type stuff) when someone who used to work for me chased me down and asked me to apply for a director of software development spot at a VMS/Access manufacturer. I took the job, but in the first week, the access control product manager sat me down and explained slowly and carefully that networks were unreliable and really couldn't be trusted. What?!! I almost walked out the door on the spot! Thankfully I stuck around, it's been a crazy 8 years, but well worth it.

My dad has been installing alarm systems since he was a teenager in the late 70s. By the late 80s, us kids tagged along on jobs with him or hung around the garage where he installed car alarms, stereos, and car phones. I learned how to shimmy under a car and hang a horn for a car siren when I was 8, because we didn't have a lift. By the time I was 10, I could repair foil or replace a pin plug. When I was 16, I dropped out of high school, because I never did very well in a classroom enviroment, and my dad informed me that moping around the house and waking up at 11:00 was not an option.

So I got a job with a guy who did a mix of commercial and residential alarms, plus computer networking and telephone systems, which my dad did not offer. This guy I worked for loooooooved to talk, and I kept asking him questions, and he kept lecturing about electrical theory, security concepts, history of security systems, and best installation practices. He wasn't the most easygoing boss I ever had, but he was knowledgable and curious and had a real creative approach to problemsolving that I've tried to internalize.

He was an actual trunkslammer, with, if I recall correctly, a 1989 Mercury Marquis. It was my job to sit in the car with the engine running and drive around the block a couple of times when I saw meter maids. On occasion, we'd take the subway into the city when it was just a service call and the call out charge would not cover gas and tolls. Have you ever taken a Little Giant ladder, a tool bag, and pockets stuffed full of wire scraps onto a New York City subway car? I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

We also worked in lots of bad neighborhoods, gentrification not having had time to spread very far from the G train. So my job was to stand next to a pile of tools and cable spools with a pipe with one end wrapped in electric tape, trying to look scary. It must have worked because we only got ripped off once.

After he got sick and tired of my teenage shenanigans and fired me for chronic lateness, I made good money hiring myself out for the day to trunkslammers who needed an extra hand to do a big job. Thanks to tips and tricks I learned from this guy, I was really, really good at running cables where cables shouldn't be able to go and fixing unfixable problems.

That's when my dad called. A customer of his wanted to install a digital video recorder. Could I help him install it and put it on the Internet? I'd recently flunked out of an MCSE prep course, so I was perfectly qualified to figure out this mysterious digital doohicky. So I went down and figured out how to set it up with the help of Google. And, for the life of me, I couldn't figure out why in the world people wants a device that looked worse than VHS for triple the price or more? Okay, yes, a hard drive lasted a lot longer than tapes, and it had the multiplexer built right in, but still. The price was insane. I couldn't see it.

The customer could, though. It was the ability to view his factory live, offsite. This customer was so impressed that he took his laptop around to other factories in the same industrial park in order to show his factory-owner buddies how awesome his DVR was, and to give them our phone number, essentially acting as a volunteer salesman for my dad.

Business exploded, and I worked for my dad installing DVRs. But then the housing boom happened, and he got hooked up with a developer, a guy who would chop down a bunch of trees and build forty or fifty identical townhouses at a shot. My baby brother, who had joined the business, set up a kind of assembly line system, installing buglar alarm, fire alarm, intercom, telco, and TV cabling in these houses, able to knock two complete installations in a day. I, however, was incredibly bored with the same thing every day.

Meanwhile, a buddy of mine was working at a photography store in New York City that had begun selling CCTV as a sideline. I visited him at work, and took the opportunity to tell him everything they were doing wrong- they were selling box cameras but no lenses, cables but no connectors, for example. Mid rant, some dude wandered over. He listened to my rant, said "hmmm... interesting...", and wandered away.

Two days later he called and offered me a job.

So, I'm working there for a while, selling cameras and DVRs, and then this product catagory gets added to our order entry system called IP Cameras. I'd heard of them, of course, but didn't know anything about them. So I start researching them, and I come across a website called IP Video Market.

Which brings us to today. The photography store sold more and more surveillance cameras, eventually making me sales manager of a new surveillance video sales department, and I made more and more stupid comments on IPVM.

And my oldest takes great pleasure in point out security cameras he sees when we're out and about. We're learning about form factors and mounting considerations...

"And my oldest takes great pleasure in point out security cameras he sees when we're out and about. We're learning about form factors and mounting considerations..."

And the legacy continues!!!

Awesome story!

These are all grwat stories, but I like this (Ari's) and Michael Silva's the best so far.

After graduating with a relatively useless degree in Physics (the "Liberal Arts of Engineering"), I moved home, dejected, and desperate for any job I was remotely qualified for. I got a callback from Johnson Controls, then (in 1992) putting in the card-access system at Boston Logan, which was not going well. The guy asked me if I could 1) take crap politely day-in and day-out, 2) had passable skills, and 3) could start Monday.

I and my then-boss wound up re-writing the head-end software for that system. That software now goes by the name of Honeywell Pro-Watch.

My boss went off to found Red Cloud (now part of Avigilon) and I went to Mercury for a while, and am now independent.

Have you heard that entropy isn't what it used to be?

/rimshot

Have you heard that entropy isn't what it used to be?

Not here, Serbia. Definately on rise. Probably increase from here-on-out til the end-of-times*

*approx.

In 2009 I started at a small regional distributor who's biggest claim to fame was that they were the first Vivotek Distributor in America. There were literally 4 employees and it was a small office that was above a garage that housed all their inventory. Their training was: "go to the Axis website and read their IP Video overview" and it was reinforced by me setting up the Vivotek cameras in their small lab. I would handle any RMA's and make sure the cameras were in fact defective when sent in. I also did cold calling to businesses to get them to buy cameras from us. The work environment was not very conducive to growing in the industry. However one thing they did tell me, which is one of the most influential pieces of advice I have had in my career, was to start reading this site www.ipvideomarket.info

I started learning more and more about the industry by frequenting this site and I got my first job at a manufacturer, VideoTec. I got to travel to Italy and visit their factory and did my first ISC West trade show with a manufacturer. As I got more immersed in the Security Sales and Integration business I experienced working with the distributors like Anixter, ADI and ScanSource and started to build my network with the integrators. I have to say it is pretty interesting how I fell into this indsutry but I'm glad I did. I have my degree in Accounting and all my buddies who are in that field now, for the most part, HATE their jobs. I like what I do and even though there are some drawbacks to this industry (sales reports, sleazy competitors, very few young people :( ) I am happy with my career and still think there is real value to the products I am selling.

John knows me and I'm sure he thinks I'm meant to be a sales guy so this shouldn't come as a surprise to him but more to the rest of the board.

Sorry for the narrative but that's how I fell into this business in a nutshell.

I'm getting here late, but thought I would throw in my 2 cents.

I was handling marketing for a small semi-conductor company when suddenly one day, we came to work and heard that the company had been sold. A small severance and no job was not going to go far, and a friend of mine who was running a small alarm company (no one was using the word integrator back then, at least not much) contacted me to help him with his website and assisting his marketing efforts.

While working there part-time, he approached me with a new type of device that he had sold to a customer that didnt use VHS tapes to record, it used a hard drive, and he wanted to see if I could learn how to use it before he had his installers go put it in at the customers.

I figured it out, and after I demonstrated to him how it operated he asked me to show the customer how to use it after the installers were done hooking up the devices.

Within a month, I was programming access control systems, (my first was a 30 door installation at a financial institution) and a little over a year later, I was integrating Pelco PTZ cameras with 100 door access control systems, (when neither Pelco or Northern Computers would justify that it would work).

I really enjoyed the tech and project management side, but they asked me to move to sales - and I've been selling integrated systems for the last 9 years now. Its a fun industry.

I guess I would go with this. (Fake It Till You Make It), at least my first job (sorry second). The first camera I put in was probably '05 at a restaurant where I was installing the projectors, TVs, audio etc. The security company installed 4 cameras. The problem was the recorder only could accomodate 4 cameras and they wanted one more for the bar. A mentor at the time said just put in a black and white camera and a time-lapse recorder. It makes me laugh thinking about it. I questioned why I would ever put in black and white and use a tape. It worked OK and the owner was fine with it.

Next camera job came when I was asked to install the audio system for a jewelry store. I said that was no problem. Then he asked if I could do the camera system. I said sure no problem, how hard could it be. It really was very simple. Unfortunately, I was looking at buying from MCM and then bought some wire from Alarmax because I thought I liked Coleman cable. (but after I had a few binds and some cable where the numbers wore off, I changed my mind) The sales person said asked what I was getting since we were discussing cameras. He said he could beat the price and that an Everfocus DVR would be better than the Speco. Currently, I would never use either of them again. However, the Everyfocus and Speco cameras worked fine and the DVR with its PATA drives lasted at least 6 years and one hard drive was changed one time. It was the worst DVR I have ever used with a text based menu, limited options from a web browser, and you could only advance forward in the menu and not back. I honestly designed it on the plan using circles and arrows with the direction they were going to point. They were varifocal so it wasn't a huge deal. Coverage was adequate and still is.

After that, I installed the audio and camera systems for the other locations he opened. After the first install, I started using Nuvico and I did like their DVRs and the cameras were aesthetically pleasing. Through the transition to IP, Nuvico fell behind and I probably won't install another one because there are too many other great options. When they came out with IP, they didn't support ONVIF and they didn't offer enough camera options.

Somewhere along the line I came accross JVSG which I use quite a bit and it's nice when the recorder screen shots match the design shots. I had been searching for design software that wasn't really cheap but didn't break the bank. I was also searching for any design information I could find and didn't really come up with much. I conversed with this site in my search (http://cctvdesign.com.au/) and that was helpful to some extent but I wanted more and I believe I found IPVM while searching for WDR and PIXIM and what was going to happen to them. I signed up and continue learning.

My other passion is still audio (AV integration by necessity), but CCTV has become another passion that is fun and engaging since it has gone HD with IP and CVI and technology keeps changing. It's become so much more than a simple recorder with a few camera connected with coax. Although with analog HD options it may stay that simple at times depending on the budget and camera selection needed.

Considering where I am now and seeing what gets installed daily at some places, I can't imagine ever picking up a plan and aiming cameras without more design. I still know that many companies around my area ask the customer where they want cameras and a lot of pointing takes place, then the cameras go up. They are sometimes crooked, have too little detail, or the designer? didn't even use a simple FoV calculator. Although you don't know what you don't know until you do. I found this out with CCTV and searched for it because I found out early what it means to properly design audio systems and still continue to learn in that field. Some audio companies use the same loudspeaker for many different spaces because they like the sound of it but never think about the coverage angle of that loudspeaker or if it will even be loud enough. Everytime I hear someone talk about wattage it makes me cringe because wattage is irrelevent without an efficiency(sensitivity) rating. Just yesterday someone asked me if they maybe their speakers just need more power. They could provide 200W instead of 100W. I thought they could then ask the listeners in a pole if they noticed a change because is only about a 3dB increase.

I digress.

My dad sold life insurance back in the 70’s, after a few years he wanted to provide more security for his customers, so got a job selling home alarms. After a few years and a couple of companies that didn’t treat him or his customer well. He left and started Command with a few customers who decided to go with him and one tech (who’s still with us today, he started with my dad at 18, he’s now 52).
Dad never took a vacation growing up, he said he wanted to pay off his house and kids college education before he vacationed. Because of that, I spent a lot of my childhood working in his office, when I was 8 we installed a camera in my R/C car with a wireless transmitter/receiver so I could drive around the house. He built and sold a lot of wireless video to the secret service and other government agencies. I thought that was super cool.
During high school I worked as an apprentice pulling cable for the installers and carrying their tools. After high school I starting working full time until I left for school. Worked in sales for a couple of companies while in college and came back and started in the alarm business.
For me, this is what I always wanted to do. I love the work we do to secure families and businesses. I love our customers and the technology we offer them. I guess its in my blood.
I hope my son joins the business in a few years.

My friend Tom and I grew up in the same church. I was smart and he was -- not as smart. So I went off to college and he joined the assembly lines in Detroit.

Four years later he was married, had a child, owned a house and two cars, and had started a security company. I had a diploma and a need for a job.

I worked for him installing security systems while looking for a "real" job in marketing. Every job I found, he would match the salary and promote me. I became installation manager, then sales, then managed the sales department. He sold his accounts (for million$) and I went to work for our distributor. I worked the counter, then was given my own branch to manage. A year later I became marketing director for that regional distributor.

All that happened within five years. It goes on from there, but that was my start.

Years later I was working for a manufacturer that made, among other things, mobile DVRs. We were having a hard time finding competent installers. So I called Tom. I showed him the ropes and sent some business his way. He hired some guys and started his own company http://www.excelsmobile.com/ specializing in mobile video.

Tom and I are still great friends. He has owned two successful companies and I still work for a paycheck. So who is really the smart one?

My friend Tom and I grew up in the same church. I was smart and he was -- not as smart.

one of the greatest introductions i have read...

After a stint in the military, my wife and first born moved to her home town with nothing but the clothes on our backs, a minivan and a proficient skill in the use of heavy machine guns; the latter of which didn't translate too well into the civilian sector.

I had to sell my 4X4 truck to get the minivan......man I miss that truck.

After a month living in her parents basement I was fortunate enough to get a position in corporate security. After being asked to do various jobs, CCTV, UHF, etc., I became fascinated with his line of work, in particular to the networking side of things.

Most of what I have learned has been OJT and trial by fire. I enjoy the balance of designing and finishing a project, and then having the ability to use the finished product. I think if I were just installing I would miss the aspect of using/seeing the fruits of my labor.

I went to Virginia Tech, studying electrical engineering, but messed up when I ignored applying for financing for an upcoming year. I basically had to drop out for a while and got hired as an apprentice locksmith. This lead to a position with an access control integrator in the DC area. After a few years, I rose in the ranks to VP of Engineering. (I did go back to college somewhere in the middle of all this.) We were designing and selling video systems by RCA & GE mostly (with some Panasonic thrown in) and used accessories from Pelco, Vicon & American Dynamics. For access systems, we largely provided Schlage Electronics card access (one of the first proximity systems), but also did some work with biometrics (retina, hand geometry, fingerprint) and companies like Stellar Systems and Vindicator among others.

In those days, cameras were all tube cameras – and color video was almost non-existent. The cameras were big, heavy & clunky by today’s standards, but we got them to work pretty well. We did some pretty major projects for places like Walter Reed Hospital, Vandenberg AFB, MCI, GTE, US Post Office, CIA, NSA, FBI, US Army and tons of businesses in the area as well as a number of foreign embassies. We even did an occasional high-end residence. I fondly remember one in Bermuda…

Vindicator lured me away to California in the late 80’s and I cut my teeth on projects with the projects for SDI (aka Star Wars – remember Reagan’s pet program?), some federal prisons, and some of the Army’s chemical weapons depots. Vindicator relocated the company to Austin, TX and, a year or so later, Reagan’s plan worked – the Soviet Union fell apart and our government business started drying up. (We used to kid around that “peace broke out.”) We searched around for some commercial applications of our technology and we started designing locks for safes – basically a stand-alone access control system for a steel box. The Vindicator Lock was launched (I’m actually listed as a joint inventor on a couple of patents) and we sold them to the chain restaurant industry.

This led me away from the video business for a number of years. Did some electronic lock business internationally in Europe, South America and Australia. I got further away from it when Vindicator got acquired by Mas-Hamilton and I moved into a marketing position. There I dealt with all types of electronic safe locks, including a sophisticated type that controlled access to multiple ATMs.

I had a stint with LockNet (national service provider to chain retailers) and Westec, and now with Security Source selling video and access systems to retail & restaurant chains. Been here a couple of years now and had to learn some new technology (new to me anyway) and re-learn some old technology. It’s been an interesting ride.

I never knew the connection between Vindicator Access and Vindicator Locks. Thanks for sharing!

Small world isn't it?

I saw this cute blonde wearing a cornstarch blue and white checkered dress chasing a rather large white rabbit into a hole, and I followed them down into the hole....

10 years ago as a young lad in my last year of college (Business degree - Major in Marketing), I met with Genetec at a career day was hired as a marketing intern for a semester. Joined full time right out of college as employee #42, today being one of the "old young guys" (over 600 employees). Went from marketing cooridnator to Inside Sales rep, moved out west to become an RSM in 2008 and now part of the BD group. What a great ride it has been! Best part is, the majority of employees that were alreayd there when I joined are still part of the core group.

I quickly learned that this industry is like the mob... you might move around, but you'll never leave...

In 1987 at the age of 20 without any technical qualifications I decided that I would start a CCTV company in Melbourne, Australia. At the time there was very little CCTV deployed by businesses and not much competition. Monochrome vidicon cameras connected to a sequential switcher and a VCR was high tech! I remember being so excited when Panasonic released their first monochrome Quad compressors so we could record up to 4 cameras simultaneously onto a single video tape. Over the past 28 years I have been involved with pioneering CCTV into new markets and applications evaluating new products and technologies. I've seen many products, technologies and companies come and go. However, I've never been more excited about CCTV as I enjoy the positive feedback from customers appreciating the superior picture quality achieved when they upgrade to HD and benefits of being able to access their systems via their PC and/or SmartPhone/Tablets. I manage medium to large CCTV systems that typically have 40 to 80 cameras per site across multiple sites into the hundreds. Our company has evolved over the years and is now Australia's premier VMS manufacturer.

27 years ago, I was partners in a furniture refinishing/antique restoration business when my partner who was the artistic talent of the company moved out of state and we closed the business. I was desparate for a job & sent resumes to every ad in the paper regardless of what it was for because I had no real idea what I wanted to be/do when I grew up. A manuf. rep in the industry brought me in for an interview, showed me thier line card, asked if I thought I could sell that stuff (passive components & security cameras) and I told them I had no idea what any of it was but as a fast learner I had no doubt that I could sell it and they hired me. I spent 10 years with them & then moved into integration, with short stints in manufacturing and semi-conductor component sales and now I'm out on my own. I love the customers, the technology and the vendors I work with. I find it a "community" and have only rarely met someone in the industry I didn't like & get along with. I like the constant change so I'm always learning & never in a rut. I'll retire in the industry for sure.